A British vote to exit the European Union (EU) has spurred a flight to safety, potentially creating opportunities. With most asset valuations looking fair to expensive, however, it’s important to focus on relative valuations.
Prior to Brexit, there was a wide range of valuations but few cheap assets globally, as shown above. Modest economic growth, low inflation expectations and easy central bank policies have sent yields lower, intensifying flows into income-oriented assets. This partly explains acute valuation differences between equities and government bonds. Political concerns in Europe have exacerbated other extreme differences.
Selectivity and caution are key
Valuations tell us little about short-term returns but can potentially shed light on medium-term returns. Starting valuations explain roughly 10% of U.S. equity market returns over the following year but 87% of returns over the next 10 years, according to our analysis back to 1998.
Valuations also show the risk of owning bonds (and bond proxies) could rise further, as market uncertainty and easy monetary policy potentially drive valuations of interest-rate-sensitive assets higher. Some assets may be cheap for a reason, reflecting structurally challenged businesses for instance.
The big takeaway for those seeking to buy into market weakness: Be wary of notionally cheap assets that face challenges (e.g., domestically focused European assets like UK real estate and European banks), and instead focus on assets with relatively attractive valuations and positive fundamental drivers, such as quality stocks, dividend-growth stocks and investment-grade bonds. Indiscriminate selling of risk assets could translate into buying opportunities in these assets, including in UK-listed stocks that benefit from pound depreciation (72% of FTSE 100 revenues are earned abroad).
Week in Review
The UK vote to leave the EU pummeled global risk assets and the British pound and drove down safe-haven yields.
The vote set in motion a long period of political, economic and market uncertainty for the UK and the EU.
Expectations of additional monetary stimulus in the UK and the EU rose, while the odds of a July Federal Reserve (Fed) rate increase plummeted.
This week will bring signs regarding whether May’s poor job growth was a harbinger of a US recession. We don’t believe it was. We see the US economy experiencing a long, slow recovery tracking the typical flattish performance of economies after a financial crisis, and consensus growth estimates are likely to tick higher in the second half, our analysis shows.
Views from a US dollar perspective over a three-month horizon:
Richard Turnill, BlackRock’s Global chief investment strategist